Tuesday, August 21, 2007


1. Card games were popular. Poker, euchre, spades, and other card games were popular. Some were known to throw away the cards just before a battle. If the soldier was killed, he did not want his parents to know he played cards, which was considered a great sin at the time. If the troop survived the battle, he took the first opportunity to search for his cards. (Usually, he could buy a new pack at the sutlers.)

2. Board Games: games like checkers and chess helped pass the time in camp.

3. Cockroach races: place two cockroaches in the middle of a tin plate. After the bets were taken in, the roaches are released. First roach to the edge wins.

4. Dice: dice was rolled and winners and losers were determined by what numbers was rolled. This was considered a particularly evil vice, so much that Confederate General Thomas Jackson authorized severe punishments for his soldiers who were caught plating dice.

5. Baseball: As mentioned else ware, Union Major General Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball. There was already a small league in existence, but he might have had a hand in some of the modern rules. There were games between companies, or between regiments. There could also have been the occasional game between Union and Confederate regiments, but that could not be confirmed. A friendly game between teams that would see the next day trying to kill each other.

6. Reading: 10 cents at the sutlers could buy a “dime novel” for passing away the time. Other merchants would sell newspapers from New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, sometimes as recent as two days old.

7. Letters: A few cents at the sutlers would but you stationery, envelopes, and postage to send a letter home. If one could not write, a more literate member of the unit could make a few cents writing letters for his mates.

8. Horse Races: A good past time, as well was keeping the horses on shape. The most famous example was the Irish Brigade’s Great Steeple Chase of St. Patrick’s Day, 1862.

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